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Green infrastructure is a stormwater management tool that takes advantage of the natural processes of soils and plants in order to slow down and clean stormwater and keep it from overwhelming the City's sewer system. Through a long term planning process, the Urban Watershed Assessment will identify green and grey sewer improvements over the next twenty years. 

Learn about the Sewer System Improvement Program’s green infrastructure projects here.

Bioswale at Lake Merced during rain event

GI Permeable Paving 1

Bulb out with green infrastructure that extends the sidewalk and area for water to soak into the ground

GI Interactive Map cropped

Rain Gardens

Rain gardens capture stormwater runoff from streets, roofs, and parking lots. Plants and soil absorb that water, reducing the amount of runoff overwhelming the sewer system.

Permeable Paving

Permeable paving allows stormwater to soak into the ground in contrast to hard surfaces (concrete or asphalt) where stormwater rapidly flows into the sewer system.

Green Bulb Outs

A traffic calming method that extends the sidewalk, reducing the distance to cross the street, increasing pedestrian visibility and safety. These can include green technologies to capture and treat stormwater.

Visit SF Projects

See an interactive map of green infrastructure projects in San Francisco.  

How has it performed?

The SFPUC monitored six green infrastructure projects from 2009 – 2015 in order to evaluate performance, best practices and design standards for future green infrastructure projects.  Monitoring was completed in partnership with SFPUC and San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI).  Review our monitoring reports below.

cesar chavez gi Cesar Chavez Streetscape Improvement
Completed in March 2014 as a demonstration project for the Better Streets Plan, the project includes 18 rain gardens along more than a half mile of impervious streetscape from Hampshire Street to Guerrero Street in the Mission neighborhood of San Francisco. Additional improvements include traffic-calming bulb-outs, street trees, drought-tolerant landscaping and a permanent bike lane.
private residence monitoring report Kimberg Rainwater Harvesting System
The Kimberg Rainwater Harvesting System was installed in 2009 by the homeowner in the Noe Valley neighborhood of San Francisco. The system collects rainfall from a 1,100 square foot rooftop, treats the water via settling, filtration and Ultraviolet (UV) irradiation, then distributes treated water to interior plumbing fixtures (toilets and laundry machine) and to an exterior hose bib.
Newcomb GI Newcomb Avenue Green Street
The Newcomb Avenue Green Street was a City of San Francisco pilot project to assess the benefits of green infrastructure implementation to San Francisco's combined sewer system. The model block seeks to provide multiple benefits including urban beautification, traffic calming, increased community gathering spaces, and some return to historical watershed function.
SFSU Site 3 cropped San Francisco State University: Bioswale
Since 2010, San Francisco State University professors, facilities and grounds crews, and the SFSU Planning Department have successfully collaborated on several green infrastructure installations across the campus. The traditional lawn areas surrounding the SFSU Science Building were selected for green infrastructure construction with the intention to serve as an educational opportunity for the SFSU community.
SFSU Site 1 cropped San Francisco State University: Infiltration Basin
San Francisco State University has implemented several green infrastructure installations across the main campus. The campus has many impervious areas including expansive rooftops, sidewalk areas, and parking lots that result in high stormwater flow rates into the combined sewer system without abatement. Stormwater runoff in some locations is now being directed into bioretention planters, vegetated swales, cisterns and other GI controls.
Sunset Circle GI Robin Sunset Circle
Vegetated swales and infiltration basins were constructed at the Sunset Circle parking lot to reduce stormwater flow to adjacent Lake Merced. The green infrastructure was installed in 2006, and from 2012 to 2014 stormwater flow exiting the system was monitored.

Green Infrastructure provides multiple benefits to the communities including:

  • Enhances community space and beautifies streets
  • Improves street conditions for bicyclists and pedestrians
  • Increases biodiversity and brings green to our streets
  • Cleans groundwater
  • Creates green jobs
  • Public education
  • Reduces urban heat (Heat Island Effect)
  • Improves air quality
  • Reduces energy consumption
  • Improves pedestrian safety/traffic calming
  • Reduces wastewater treatment costs
  • Creates a more livable habitat for birds, native plants and residents


Last updated: 2/11/2016 2:51:50 PM